ZVOX AV157 Sound Bar with AccuVoice Dialogue Boost-Review (MSRP $199.00) The ZVOX AV157, see photo 1, website indicates that ZVOX AccuVoice “uses hearing aid technology to lift voices out and bring them forward so you will hear every word clearly”. The video ad goes on to say that with AccuVoice you will be able to hear what the actors are saying without turning up the volume so everyone in the neighborhood can hear your TV. The first goal of any product review is to determine if the product can do what the manufacturer promised. My testing of the ZVOX AV157 sound bar determined that it is capable of increasing your ability to hear actors’ dialogue without raising volume so it is super loud. I created this YouTube video, (https://youtu.be/Q41EH7I26v4), to show AccuVoice and SuperVoice in action. Because of a Disney copyright claim the part of the video where I showed sound differences during the playing of a four minute clip from a Disney movie needed to be removed. In the video Tom Hannaher, the CEO and founder of ZVOX demonstrates system features. It is important for me to mention that the ZVOX AV157 can help people with low to moderate hearing loss including people who wear a hearing aid.
How AccuVoice Works Accuvoice works by separating the human voice frequencies in the soundtrack using the same algorithms you find in a hearing aid. Just like a hearing aid the AccuVoice process boosts these frequencies, without creating noticeable latency, to make it easier for you to hear what the people are saying. Just like a hearing aid it can diminish background sounds from the sound track, which in this case is the gun fire, explosions, music, or even the cheers from a stadium crowd if you are watching live sports on TV. The ZVOX AV157 has six levels of AccuVoice. You select the boost level by pressing the AccuVoice button on the remote. See photo 2. As you go from the lowest to the highest level, the dialogue of the actors becomes easier to understand. To even further increase the separation of voices from the rest of the sound track you can activate SuperVoice which also has 6 levels. This feature will further push the rest of the sound track so it sounds like the action part of the sound track is further away from the actors.
Your Listening Experience As you move up through the different levels of AccuVoice and SuperVoice you start to sacrifice more intensity of the original sound track. Your goal, especially if your family is watching TV with you, is to find the least extreme level to improve your ability to hear dialogue and still keep the soundtrack intensity high so family, with good hearing, can still experience the full effect of the soundtrack as close to the way that the show’s director intended.
Reasons to Drool The ZVOX AV157 does make it easier to hear what the actors are saying even while watching movies and TV shows with high intensity soundtracks that include explosions, intense music, loud cheering crowds etc. You can teach your cable remote to control the power, volume, and mute functions of the ZVOX remote. Customer technical support from ZVOX is excellent. They walked me through the process of having the unit controlled by my cable remote and also solved a problem that was causing the unit to shut off unexpectedly. To accomplish both tasks the technician by phone guided me through the process using the other settings button on the remote control , see photo 2 again, so my cable remote controlled the AV157 and also to shut down the auto standby feature. You can use it with any audio output device including your computer or tablet if the device has an audio-in outlet that will accommodate one of the audio signal cables shown in photo 3. Not So Cool To raise AccuVoice or SuperVoice you press a button on the ZVOX remote control to move up one level at a time. The remote, see photo 2 again, doesn’t have a down button for this feature so you need to go all the way to level 6 where the next press will take you all the way back to level one. A remote with a AccuVoice/SuperVoice up and separate button for down would have made it much easier for a user to find the level of audio adjustment they want to use. The ZVOX AV157 does not have Bluetooth for wireless connections to computers, smartphones, or tablets.